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Me, Myself, and I: Activating Social Identities to Protect Against Identity Threat

Chen, Susie (2020) Me, Myself, and I: Activating Social Identities to Protect Against Identity Threat. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Social identities help foster feelings of belonging and support (Cialdini & Richardson, 1980; Correll & Park, 2005). This is particularly important during college, where the environment is ripe with identity-related threats that communicate a student does not belong, which is associated with decrements in academic well-being and performance (Steele & Aronson, 1995). To combat this threat, I created and tested an identity-based intervention that focused on activating students’ social identities. I predicted that activation of multiple identities could enhance the benefits associated with holding social identities and integrate students’ identities into a cohesive sense of self, buttressing sense of self in the face of threat. I conducted three pilot studies to investigate empirical differences between single and multiple identity activation (Study 1), better understand the experience of holding multiple social identities for college students (Study 2), and examine how a multiple identity manipulation combatted negative feedback directed to the self (Study 3). These findings were then integrated to create a multiple identity intervention (Study 4) delivered to incoming college students (N = 651). Results of Study 4 revealed that the identity intervention did not have an overall effect of enhancing academic well-being and performance. However, moderation analyses indicated that the intervention benefitted students in situations where perceived conflict among identities or lower identity importance diminished well-being and performance. These findings suggest that activation of multiple identities can create a sense of harmony and cohesion among identities, buffering against perceived dissonance among identities that might otherwise be detrimental to well-being and academic performance. Discussion of these findings, potential limitations of the current methodology, and modifications for further examinations of multiple identity activation are included.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Chen, Susiesusie.chen92@gmail.comsuc66
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBinning, Kevin
Committee MemberLevine, John
Committee MemberSchumann,
Committee MemberGalla, Brian
Committee MemberColeman, Nicole
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 June 2020
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 28 July 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 133
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: social identity; belonging; stereotype threat
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 13:35
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2020 13:35


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